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Midweek Musings - Predicting Penn State’s Record via Mascot Madness

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Every week, two shall enter, one shall leave

Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

The season is almost upon us, and record predictions are coming out left and right. There are countless methodologies, such as FPI, S&P+, returning productivity, etc.

Hands down the best record predicting tool would be to have the two respective mascots enter a gladiatorial arena and fight to the death, in my humble opinion. Not the dudes wearing foam suits, no, that’d be ludicrous, what’s wrong with you? But the actual animals, people, weather phenomena, and colors that comprise college football.

Our own Nittany Lion is based on a puma. Not the car from Halo, but a mountain lion. A catamount.

Pumas, in case you didn’t know, can run up to 50 mph, stand approximately 3 feet tall at the shoulder, and can weigh up to 220 pounds. Armed with claws and fangs, mountain lions are usually ambush predators, but won’t have that luxury in the Thunderdome. They’ll have to take their opponents head on, and when the dust is settled, we’ll have our victor. Let’s get to it!

Week 1 - Idaho Vandal

So I’ll be up front with you - I did little to no research when conducting this article, but I had to actually look up just what the heck a vandal is. Apparently, in a basketball game way back in the days of yore, the Idaho squad played defense so well they “vandalized” the competition, and the moniker stuck. So the opponent is literally just a dude who likes to vandalize things.

Winner - Nittany Lion (1-0, 0-0)

Week 2 - Buffalo Bull

A bull is a formidable foe, with size to tank some damage, horns, and hoofs. Unfortunately for the Bull, I watched how the Red Viper took down the Mountain with speed, and so after a brief standoff, the Lion goes for the throat, taking the bull down. And unlike Oberyn, the Nittany Lion has no vendetta against the bull, and so won’t scream about a confession until he gets within striking distance of a mortally wounded bovine.

Winner - Nittany Lion (2-0, 0-0)

Week 3 - Pittsburgh Panther

Again, little to no research was conducted, and I know that a panther is a synonym for a mountain lion, so we’ll just say that this is a lesser version of our very own Lion. Their Scar to our Mufasa, only I don’t see any Narduzzi-shaped hyenas coming to the rescue.

Winner - Nittany Lion (3-0, 0-0)

Week 4 - Maryland Terrapin

Hahahahaha it’s a literal turtle.

Winner - Nittany Lion (4-0, 1-0)

Week 5 - Purdue Boilermaker

Actually had to look this one up, because my first thought was an actual train, which, sorry Lion but you lose that one. But no, a boilermaker is someone who works on trains. Hence Mr. Uncanny Valley himself, Purdue Pete. And while he may have a hard hat and a hammer, an average joe gets maybe one swing at a charging lion before being mauled to death. Down goes Pete, his lifeless eyes staring at the sky... lifelessly.

Winner - Nittany Lion (5-0, 2-0)

Week 6 - Iowa Hawkeye

Risking actually doing research, I just went with what sounds like a bird of prey. Fast, sure, but in a fight to the death, the bird can’t just stay airborne. It has to engage. Hawks weigh like 3 pounds, and cats are renowned bird hunters. Bye bye birdie.

Winner - Nittany Lion (6-0, 3-0)

Week 7 - Michigan Wolverine

On the one hand, wolverines are known as nasty creatures which punch above their weight. Very honey badger-esque. On the other hand, they’re just belligerent little rat-dog hybrids, and would get thrashed by a full-grown, majestic AF mountain lion.

Winner - Nittany Lion (7-0, 4-0)

Week 8 - Michigan State Spartan

Well, the run was fun while it lasted. While we’re not talking Gerard Butler’s bulging abs, we are talking about a warrior who has been trained more or less since birth in hand-to-hand combat. One who is skilled with sword, shield, spear, and archery. He won’t have his phalanx, but will be armored, and unlike Mr. Pete, will know how to defend himself. The lion falls for the first time this season, and yes, once again, Penn State loses to freaking MSU.

Winner - Spartan (7-1, 4-1)

Week 9 - Minnesota Golden Gopher

The fact that this small, chubby rodent is gilded may give our hero some pause, but ultimately the gopher’s only defense is that the lion chokes on its carcass on the way down. If mutual destruction is your offense, then you don’t deserve to win.

Winner - Nittany Lion (8-1, 5-1)

Week 10 - Indiana Hoosier

Do you know what a Hoosier is? It’s literally just someone from Indiana. An Indianan, which is way too many n’s in one word. In a battle between our noble feline and Leslie Knope, the puma wins 100% of the time, every time.

Winner - Nittany Lion (9-1, 6-1)

Week 11 - Ohio State Buckeye

An actual nut. Is it a poisonous nut? Sure is. But nowhere in the rules does it state that you need to eat your opponent, merely extinguish their life. A nut, having been picked and cutoff from its life source is by definition, not alive. The lion wins again, and fun fact, in this game OSU goes winless.

Winner - Nittany Lion (10-1, 7-1)

Week 12 - Rutgers Scarlet Knight

Oh. Oh no. Oh sweet merciful lord no. A knight, no matter how ridiculously festooned with ruddy garb, is still akin to a Spartan. Trained in many forms of combat, but unlike a Spartan whose armor was chiefly boiled leather, a knight comes to the arena fully decked out in plate and mail. I just don’t see any realistic way that a mountain lion can defeat a knight in combat. And so despite vanquishing both Michigan and Ohio State, with a spot in the B1G Championship Game all but assured, and staring the College Football Playoff in the face, the lion drops its final game of the season against Rutgers, all but eliminating any national championship hopes.

Winner - Scarlet Knight (10-2, 7-2)

Overall Record: 10-2, 7-2

And so there you have it. The Nittany Lion makes short work of most of his opponents, but the two armored, trained warriors end up defeating our hero, putting Penn State at 10-2 overall.

Funny enough, I don’t see very many ways that Rutgers DOESN’T win the B1G East. The only argument I could see for a loss for them would be week 1 against the UMass Minuteman. Even that’s dubious, because while the minuteman has a rifle, it’s from the late 1770s, meaning it takes approximately 5 hours to reload a single shot. If the first shot takes down the knight, then that’s that, but if it’s a miss, or doesn’t hit anything vital, a single swing of the sword does the job.

I’ll say Rutgers wins the East at 12-0, 9-0, and takes on... the Illinois Fighting Illini? It may depend on crossovers and out of conference schedules, but everyone else in the West is either an easily taxidermied animal, or a regular dude. Looking at their schedule, the Illini probably lose to MSU, but win the rest of their games. I’d like to see the kangaroo-Illini battle in week one, but the rest should be cake.

So your B1G Championship Game is undefeated Rutgers versus one-loss Illinois. Just like all of the pundits are calling for. And I’d have to give the nod to the Scarlet Knight against a Native American warrior, simply due to the armor.

So yeah, the 2019 Big Ten champion will be undefeated Rutgers, who will then go on to the playoffs.

This game is dumb and I don’t want to play any more.